When we are out in the community delivering RentersEd presentations we often receive questions on the smoking and growing of recreational cannabis in rental housing. The Province of Nova Scotia has provided clear guidelines on their website, and in the summary below.
Cannabis Rules for Tenants and Landlords
Landlords can change existing leases to put rules in place about smoking and growing recreational cannabis. They need to give their tenants 4 months’ written notice of these changes before 30 April 2019. The tenants can then choose to end the lease.
Legislation allows landlords to add rules around smoking and growing recreational cannabis to existing leases. It also allows tenants to move out early because the landlord has changed the rules to restrict smoking or growing recreational cannabis in the rental.
Landlords can change their existing leases by giving tenants 4 months’ written notice of changes to their cannabis rules before 30 April 2019. The landlord needs to personally deliver the notice to each tenant or send it to each tenant by registered mail.
After 30 April 2019, landlords can change their cannabis rules, but they need to give tenants 4 months’ written notice before the tenant’s anniversary date.
When the landlord provides this notice, the tenant can then decide if they want to end the lease. The tenant has 1 month to decide. If they want to end the lease, they need to give the landlord 3 months’ written notice by using the Tenant’s Notice to Quit – Early Termination of Tenancy Due to Cannabis Rules Form.
More than 1 tenant in the unit
If there is more than 1 tenant in the unit, the tenant who wants to leave needs to serve a copy of the Tenant’s Notice to Quit on all co-tenants (roommates). The tenant also needs to provide the landlord with proof that they served the notice to their co-tenants by completing the Acknowledgement of Service or Affidavit of Service within the Tenant’s Notice to Quit Form.
Options for co-tenants (roommates)
The tenancy (lease) ends for all tenants after a tenant provides the landlord with the Tenant’s Notice to Quit Form. Co-tenants (roommates) can enter into a new tenancy agreement (lease) with the landlord, which the landlord can’t unreasonably deny. If they don’t arrange for a new tenancy (lease), all co-tenants (roommates) need to move out on the date the tenancy (lease) ends.
Rules for new leases
If a landlord wants to change a cannabis rule on a new lease, they don’t need to give notice. Landlords should give a copy of the rules to the tenants before they sign the lease. If the tenants don’t receive a copy of the rules, they should ask the landlord if there are any additional rules before signing a lease.
No smoking rules
Under the Smoke-free Places Act, no smoking rules include smoking cannabis. The act restricts smoking in public spaces and other common areas within commercial buildings or multi-unit residential buildings. The act also applies to medical cannabis use. Municipalities may also enact by-laws restricting use.
Tobacco allowed, but not cannabis
Landlords can create their own rules. This means that landlords can allow for smoking of tobacco but not cannabis. Landlords need to specifically state this in the rules.
When a tenant doesn’t follow the terms and conditions of the lease, a landlord can file Form J: Application to Director for a hearing to end the lease.
The Department of Environment enforces infractions under the Smoke-free Places Act.